New Release: There’s No Right Way to Do the Wrong Thing!

The Inspira team is excited to announce the launch of author Christopher Gilbert’s book, There’s No Right Way to Do the Wrong Thing (catchy title, right?), released in May of 2018. Seriously, as our team worked on this book we all had numerous little “aha” moments as we became more aware of the “little things” we and other people often do–or are at least tempted to do–in the course of a day.  Even things like where we and how we parked that day in the office parking lot! (Oops.)  It’s how we all conduct ourselves in the little things that can have big impact in our communities, cities, and world.  That’s the message of this book.

Dr. Gilbert (aka Chris) has a Ph.D in Organization, Management, and Leadership Ethics, and teaches ethics at the University of Washington in Tacoma. He also has over thirty years experience in organizational development serving as a strategic facilitator and leadership and operations consultant.

Within the sphere of higher education, Dr. Gilbert has served as COO for Bainbridge Graduate Institute and global faculty at the University of Washington and educational institutions in the US, China, Switzerland, Iran and the Russian Republic. Whether providing a keynote speech or facilitating a workshop or team coaching session–or writing a book, for that matter!–Chris brings a unique blend of practical experience and accessible personal connection into all of his work.

There’s No Right Way To Do The Wrong Thing is an exploration in how we can all make better choices for a better world. It’s full of great insights and a lot of laughs as Chris tells humorous stories (sometimes about himself) about the ethical mis-steps we all navigate in life.  It’s a great book, and we hope you’ll check it out!

Arlyn Lawrence is the founder and senior editor at Inspira. One of her favorite things about her job is the many things she learns while editing our authors’ books!

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10 Tips to Harness the Power of Networking to Promote Your (Non-Fiction) Book

The publishing landscape is, unfortunately, littered with books that never sold more than a few hundred (or even a few dozen copies). What makes the difference between a book that sells and one that doesn’t? There are number of factors, but I’ve found one that makes a tremendous difference, particularly with non-fiction books, is the power of networking.

For example, one self-publishing project I worked on, a leadership and life skills book and course for teens, found its way into educational networks, first in the Family & Consumer Science field, and more recently in the “at-risk” and alternative education realms. The books and its curricular resources are experiencing widespread success in public schools around the country, as well as in mentor organizations, and has been published in Indonesia and most recently in China.

Another author I worked with had his book and accompanying workbooks picked up by an international Christian ministry organization and ultimately translated into a number of languages including French, German, Arabic, Chinese, and more. As a result of the impetus initially gained through that ministry’s networks and international reach, the program is now experiencing widespread success not only in multiple countries, but on multiple continents.

Yet another, a marriage enrichment course developed by a non-profit organization in Seattle, fell into military networks. It eventually became one of only a few such courses approved by the Department of Defense for distribution and use on DOD installations in the U.S. and internationally.

The common denominator in the success of all these self-published projects was undoubtably the power of networking. How can an average author or organization hope to experience similar success through networking? Here are 10 tips:

  1. Identify what networks you want to get into. Who would like to read your book or use your curricular resources? At first, when we were launching the leadership and life skills books, we thought they might be a good fit for public school counselors. So, our first conference was with the NASC (National Association of School Counselors). It was there that multiple visitors to our booth told us, “You should really be at the national CTE (Career & Technical Educators) conference!” We heeded their advice, found our tribe with the FACS (Family & Consumer Science) teachers we met there, and the rest is history.
  2. Start by making a comprehensive list of probable organizations. It’s best to do this with a group of friends or colleagues, to broaden the list of ideas and possibilities.
  3. Brainstorm whom you know in those organizations. Assign various individuals the responsibility of reaching out to their contacts. A personal connection is your best calling card!
  4. Create and rehearse your basic branding:
  • two-sentence summary of your book
  • 30-second elevator pitch
  1. Develop an email list and feed it regularly. Send a weekly or bi-weekly email with useful content (not marketing).
  2. Be intentional with social media. Think Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn; post frequently and strategically. Encourage your tribe to comment and share to help boost your posts’ SEO (Search Engine Optimization), to make you more easily found on the internet by those searching your topic.
  3. Find out about conferences where you can exhibit and speak. For a small extra fee when you book an exhibit table, you can usually register to give a workshop or two and get in front of an audience. Give away books; it will make your booth a magnet!
  4. Contact bloggers and book reviewers in fields associated with your book. Read their guidelines on what and how to submit, and send them your book for reviews and give-aways.
  5. Be an active networker. This means: .
  • Carry business cards at all times with your book and website on them (and give them out freely!)
  • Include social media links on your email signature, as well as links to your book website.
  • Be constantly thinking: whom do I know that might be interested in this book? e.g., reconnect with your university/high school alumni, etc.
  1. Let people know you speak. Don’t be shy! Make yourself available for speaking engagements to anyone you know who has an audience or access to an audience. These generate opportunities to sell your book, just as having a book generates opportunities to speak.

Bottom line: put yourself out there. Don’t be shy. Get the word out to as many people as you can and ask them to pass the word to their friends and colleagues, too. You never know: your best friend’s aunt’s mother-in-law’s next-door neighbor might be the president of an organization that needs hundreds or even thousands of YOUR book. That’s the power of networking!

Arlyn Lawrence is an author and editor, and the founder and president of Inspira. She loves to see great books with important missions and messages find their way into the world and impact the lives they touch.

 

 

 

 

New Book Launch: “Am I Loved?”

The Inspira Team is proud to announce the launch of Shawn Petree’s book, Am I Loved? Petree_cover_frontThe Question You Might Not Know You’re Asking.

Shawn is a dynamic writer, speaker, and storyteller—a passionate ministry leader, teacher, husband, and father. In his book, he addresses the question many of us grapple with (and that some of us may not even know we’re asking) internally: am I loved? Shawn shares with readers his deeply personal experience with this question, and his passion for helping others find the answer is abundantly clear.

Shawn wants to help the reader answer other questions as well, such as: Is what the world says about me true? If I can’t love myself, how can others? What do I need to do to be loved? Who am I, anyway? His aim is to help tear down the destructive, self-loathing thoughts that so many of us play on a loop in our head. It’s a warm and provocative invitation to break free of the negative self-talk that tears people down, with detailed instructions on how to do so.

photo-5178553797836800The process in which Shawn’s book came to publication is a perfect example of Inspira’s “idea in head to book in hand” promise. He took advantage of the concept coaching service we offer, where he received coaching from the Inspira team on his book concept, layout and organization, voice, style, and more. From there, we completed a chapter-by-chapter developmental edit, working closely with him to perfect his voice every step of the way.

Since the launch of Am I Loved? on January 9th earlier this month, the book has already been fifth on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list of Spiritual Self-Help books on Kindle! It’s being welcomed with high acclaim by readers of all ages and backgrounds. If you would like to know more about Shawn’s book, his ministry, and his mission, you can ShawnPetree-1visit www.amiloved.org. If you’d like to purchase the book (either paperback or Kindle), you can find it here: https://www.amazon.com/Am-Loved-Question-Might-Asking-ebook/dp/B077W2YCM9

It has been a joy and pleasure to work with Shawn on his project, and we hope you’ll check out his work and read the book.

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Becoming Book Launch Party

On October 2nd, the Inspira team had the honor of attending the book launch party for one of our amazing authors—Super Bowl-winning former Seahawk, Clint Gresham. Clint’s first book, Becoming: Loving the Process to Wholeness, was released that same day and is available on Amazon.com.

clint-book-launch-1002The venue for the launch party was a 114-foot yacht—Karina Jean—moored on beautiful Lake Washington near Seattle, which was generously provided by a friend to host all 50 guests. The Cascade Mountains silhouetted against the setting sun were a gorgeous backdrop to the catered event, which provided  delicious hors de ’oeuvres as guests sipped on drinks and enjoyed the view.

At the end of the night, Clint spoke to the gathering about his heart for Becoming, his mission, and his hopes and dreams for the future. It was an absolute delight for our team clint-book-launch-1064to be a part of the evening and hear him speak, as he is definitely gifted with words! We closed the night with a moment of prayer for Clint and his wife, Matti, as they embark on a nation-wide book tour for a couple of months. (Clint and Matti live in Dallas, Texas.)

Clint’s book, Becoming, starts a conversation with the reader about identity, and the parts of ourselves in which we find our greatest worth. The book asks really important questions, such as: Do we matter? If so, why? Who are we becoming? Who do we want to become? Becoming is about learning to love yourself and fully embracing the unique destiny you were made for.

Clint uses his experience as a professional football player to highlight the importance of NOT placing your identity in what you do, but rather in who you are. It’s a powerful and transformational message for people of all ages and walks of life.

clint-book-launch-1083It was a joy to partner with Clint in bringing Becoming to print. He is a passionate man of integrity and his words are bound to change thousands of lives—maybe even yours!

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Why Attend a Writing Workshop?

 

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As a writer, or someone who is interested in writing, you have probably seen advertisements (like our own!) for writing workshops. You may be wondering: What is a writing workshop? What do you get out of it? Why go to a writing workshop?

Writing workshops can be anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks, and serve to support authors on their journey toward writing and publishing a book. They provide a variety of information, support, consultation, feedback, encouragement, and networking.

This is usually very different from a writing class. A writing class is prescriptive, teaching writing techniques and styles within one or a variety of genres. Generally, the writing exercises are assigned according to the topic. The beauty of writing workshops are they are tailored to YOUR writing. You get to work on your book, at whatever stage it is in. You will received feedback and input from professionals in the writing and publishing industry that will give you the next steps you need to take to get your book where you want it to go.

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There are a number of components to writing a book and getting it published. Many authors who come to Inspira or attend our workshops assume that the right steps to creating a book are A) write the book, B) get feedback, C) make corrections and work towards publication. However, for most people, step B comes WAY too late.

For example, if a novel writer discovers after completing the first draft that a character is not believable, she may have to go back to square one and rewrite the entire book. Or a business writer comes to a workshop and realizes he should have been marketing his book during the entire year he has been writing it. A writing workshop gives you a recipe for writing, tailored to you, so you can know what’s ahead, and make sure your writing process is the most productive and highest quality it can be.

Writing workshops offer a short and inexpensive (when you consider both the cost of editing and hours spent re-working) boost to your writing. They can be invaluable for new and seasoned writers alike. Here are some more reasons why:

Guidance and Information: There is much you can learn from reading books and online sources, but a good facilitator can direct you to areas you need to focus on and answer your specific questions. At Inspira, we are experienced in the worlds of editing and publishing and so we are able to offer advice directing from the field.

Networking: Workshops are an excellent place to network with fellow writers, editors, publishers, and others. Never underestimate the power of networking.

Motivation and Inspiration: Writing can be a long and lonely progress. And, it’s not only the writing, but the marketing, networking, agent searching, and everything else that comes with it. A good workshop will remind you why you started, encourage you to continues, and give you the know-how to do so. Ideally, you should leave a workshop feeling inspired to finish your book!

If you are a writer, don’t sell yourself short. Get the tools you need (as soon as possible) to make your writing a success. Build community and seek out professionals who can guide you. Workshops are a great way to dip your foot into the water. Perhaps you just have an idea for a book; a workshop is the perfect place to learn how to begin and succeed. Perhaps you are part way through writing and feel in a rut; get encouragement and tips to keep going! Or maybe you have finished a book but want to re-work it yourself before sending it to an editor. We cannot stress this enough: don’t edit in the dark. You don’t want to spend hours and hours reworking your book without knowing the full scope of what the reworking should look like.

If we have convinced you of the importance of writing workshops, and you are in the Seattle/Tacoma area, we hope you’ll sign up for our upcoming one-day workshop on January 28th!  We think this workshop is the perfect place to kickstart your book. After spending years working with authors and finding ourselves repeating the same information over and over, we decided to condense this information and offer it to aspiring authors to help them in their journeys to writing.

We hope to see you there!

You can register for Inspira’s one-day workshop “So You’ve Got a Story, Now What?” by accessing our Facebook Event page or emailing Kerry@inspiralit.com.

Alternative Narrative Stuctures

If you have ever watched a crime show or read a mystery novel, you have probably experienced a story that begins in medias res. The phrase literally means “into the middle of things” and in literature refers to a narrative that begins in the middle of the story. This plot structure is wonderful for grabbing the reader’s attention and bypassing exposition, and works best with action-heavy narratives.

Many thriller TV shows use this method. The episode begins with action, the crime is taking place! Then the story flashes backward to before the crime, provides background information, and then moves forward as the detective tries to solve the case.

This technique is commonly used in best sellers because it creates an immediate hook. The readers are drawn ‘max. The readers are invested in the climax from the beginning and now must see what led to this point and what happens after.

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Photo courtesy of TVtropes.org

Another plus to in medias res is that it forces the author to be creative with exposition. Exposition is necessary, but can often be dull and obvious. When the first few chapters of a book are filled with paragraphs of exposition or unrealistic dialogue for the soul purpose of giving information, the reader is easily bored. Beginning with the climax forces the writer to either use flashbacks, creative dialogue, or nonlinear narrative. This helps liven up necessary exposition, plus, the readers are already hooked!

Create Suspense by Giving Away the Ending

Another way to secure the reader’s interest is to ask the question, “How is this going to happen?” rather than, “What is going to happen?” Often, novels will gear up for a surprise ending such as the death of the main character. However, sometimes it creates more suspense to tell the reader what is going to happen and leave the reader wondering how.

I recently read a book that began with the main character telling the reader that he kills his best friend. However, as I got to know the characters I could not image why he would do such a thing. By giving away the ending, the author created suspense because the whole time I was looking for clues and any indications towards the inevitable ending.

While these two narrative techniques do not work for every novel, they are a good reminder for writers to be creative with their narratives. Plan the novel out linearly—from exposition, to climax, to resolution—then play around with different ways to build suspense and engage the reader. In medias res might not work for your novel, but it may give you some ideas for how to break up exposition and create inciting action. Are there snippets of information you can feed your reader to increase suspense? Could you make use of flashbacks or flash-forwards? Don’t be afraid to try something new; intriguing narratives make for good reading!

This post written by Assistant Editor Kerry Wade.

Protecting Your Work with a Copyright

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Your book is written and in print, hooray! Now you’re done, right? Not so fast. Before you’re off to the races with your marketing and distribution, you want to make sure you protect your work through copyright.

Copyright protects the intellectual rights of both published and unpublished works communicated in any tangible medium of expression (e.g., books, paintings, songs, software programs, etc.) from the moment they are created. It is a right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and is not dependent on being granted from any authority; it is not necessary to “apply” for a copyright. What you do need to do is register it in order to establish the work as yours and to protect you from others using, appropriating, or profiting from it without your permission. It is not required that you register your copyright; it is completely voluntary. Registration of your copyright is simply a service provided to you by the U.S. Library of Congress. If there were ever a dispute about your rights to your intellectual property, your copyright registration would be on the public record, and proof that you are the creator of that work.

Note that you cannot copyright the title of your book. What you may be interested in, in that case, is a trademark, which can protect words, phrases, symbols, or logos, or designs. (Trademark registration can be a lengthy and expensive process and requires an attorney.)

How to Register Your Copyright

The U.S. Copyright Office, a branch of the Library of Congress, is physically located in the James Madison Memorial Building in Washington, D.C. However, in this wonderful electronic age in which we live you will access it by their online location at http://www.copyright.gov/. This is the least expensive and easiest way to establish your copyright. To register, you will be required to provide:

  • a completed copyright application,
  • a (nonrefundable) filing fee, and
  • a (nonreturnable) copy or copies of your book, usually electronic

Simply set up your account online to get started, and then follow the prompts to register your book and pay by credit card. Generally speaking, most online filers receive their certificate within nine months or earlier.

It is still possible to register your copyright traditionally (manually), although the Copyright Office is starting to phase out this option, and it is more expensive. You can download a copy of the form on the website, fill it out, and send it in with your payment and a hard copy of your book.

Though perhaps tedious, registering your copyright is not a complicated process and shouldn’t be intimidating. If you fail to complete it, your book will still be copyrighted. However, if you don’t file your forms forms and pay your filing fee, your copyright will not be registered. And it’s the registration that counts if there’s ever a dispute about your intellectual rights to your book.

So, once you’ve finished your book, don’t neglect this important step. You worked so hard to create it; it’s definitely worth the extra step to protect it.

Do you have questions about book writing and publishing and live in the Seattle/Tacoma, Washington area? Consider attending our Book Writers’ Workshops … the next one coming up is Saturday, January 28th, 9 am – 3 pm in Gig Harbor … “So You’ve Got a Story, Now What?” Find more details on the “Workshop” page on our website, or read about our previous workshops, last June and September. Hope you can join us!

 

 

Be an Active In-Person Networker

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“Who me? A networker?” you ask. Yes, you. But don’t let that overwhelm you. It’s not at all complicated to “network”—and it might come even more naturally to you than you think.

In today’s world, there is a myriad of ways to network online (think social media), and this is really important; however, it is just as important to network offline. Here at Inspira, while we have clients from far off places like Indonesia and England, Arkansas and Arizona, most of our clients are from the Pacific Northwest. And, the majority of our clients heard about our company through our in-person networking or through word of mouth. Many of our authors have found the same to be true. Their biggest book deals or speaking engagements have happened because they were able to meet someone face-to-face and share their passion.

Networking is all about exchanging information and developing contacts with the end goal of furthering your career, gaining clients for your business, or spreading the word about your book. When you are able to shake someone’s hand, you become more than just a name in a contact list; you become a face and a story. You can connect over the fact that your sons go to the same school or you both disliked the last conference speaker. More importantly, they are able to see your passion and better understand where the passion comes from.

When having a personal conversation, you are also able to tailor you message to your audience. You don’t have to speak in generalizations; instead, you can specifically say why your project would be beneficial to them.

Finally, in-person networking makes you memorable. You took up space in someone’s life and left an impression (hopefully a good one!). So, when the time comes and they are looking for a book in your specific subject, they will remember your conversation and buy yours!

  1. Always be prepared. You never know when you’ll meet a good networking connection. It could be at a big conference, but it could also be at the hairdresser or at a local football game. Be ready to talk about your book at any moment. If you haven’t already, memorize a 30-second “elevator pitch.” This can especially help if you are an introvert who gets nervous when you want to impress someone or articulate a concise idea. (Smelling nice and dressing professionally never hurts either!)
  1. Always carry business cards. Don’t make people rely on their memory; give them a tangible reminder of how they can contact you and get more information.
  1. Think local. People are often very willing to support local business and authors. Develop a relationship with your local media, including radio, newspaper, and TV connections. Talk to your local library and offer to host a reading or a workshop.
  1. Be personable. Don’t dismiss the power of a solid handshake and good eye contact. You are your best marketing tool, so don’t sell yourself short. Share your passion, and people will catch hold of your vision.

“Sometimes, idealistic people are put off by the whole business of networking as something tainted by flattery and the pursuit of selfish advantage. But virtue in obscurity is rewarded only in Heaven. To succeed in this world you have to be known to people.” ~Sonia Sotomayer

Writing Well-Organized Chapters

I love bulletins. Whenever I go to an event I make sure to grab one at the door so I can meticulously follow along as the event progresses. At choir concerts, I keep my finger on the current song, and make sure I know what song is coming next. Same with the theater. You better believe I always know what act we are in.

I don’t do this because I am bored or distracted, rather because I love to know what is coming up. It gives me a sense of security because I know exactly what I have gotten myself into and how to prepare. Oh! This show is three hours long with five acts? Let me go to the bathroom now!

Think of the first few paragraphs of a chapter as the usher standing outside the theater doors. He is there to welcome people in, hand out the bulletin, and help people find their seats. Once the audience is comfortably settled in to their seats, they start to peruse the bulletin. If they anticipate they’re going to be there awhile, the audience wants to know what they’re in for.

The same is true with writing. When readers start a chapter of your book, they want to know what they’re in for. Introduce your topic to your reader and then tell them how you are going to say it. This shows your reader you are organized and allows them to prepare. Think of these statements as signposts along the road of your writing: “Next chapter three examples ahead!”

Coast_to_coast_signpost_Rogan's_Seat.jpgWriters often leave out these signposts because they are afraid of sounding pedantic, robotic, or repetitive. However, these signposts do not need to lengthy; they can be a short sentence or two, or even a numbered list. Instead of detracting from your writing, a signpost will show structure, organization, and reinforce your ideas. In fact, far from being impersonal, these signposts help your reader feel like you are right beside them, walking them through your writing.

Another reason writers leave out signposts is because their writing isn’t well-organized and therefore they cannot explain the structure in advance. A clear signpost can help the writer say on track as much as the reader!

So, before you write next chapter of your book, make sure your readers know what they are getting themselves into! (Just in case they need to take a bathroom break first!)

This post was written by Kerry Wade, Assistant Editor. 

When It’s Time to STOP Writing Your Book

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You gotta know when to hold ‘em

Know when to fold ‘em

Know when to walk away . . .

Okay, so technically that line from an old Kenny Rogers song is talking about gambling, not writing a book. But either way, it still holds true. Sometimes, you just need to know when to walk away.

There comes a point in every book manuscript when good enough is, well, good enough. How do you know when that is?

My honest answer is that it’s not something you will intuitively “know”; neither will there likely be writing in the sky or an angel choir singing the hallelujah chorus. Rather, it’s a decision you make:

It is finished.

I’ve seen authors make endless iterations of paragraphs and chapters and beginnings and endings when, frankly, each was just as good as the one before it. I have seen the same comma being inserted and removed multiple times in the same sentence, seeking “perfection.” I’m not sure who was more frustrated, the author or me!

When it comes time to make that determination, here are some things you, the author, should be thinking about to determine if your manuscript is done:

  • Structure: Does the flow of thought makes sense across the entire book ?
  • Non-fiction: Is there a clear thesis statement? Does the book deliver on its promise to answer a certain question (or questions) for the reader?
  • Fiction: Do all your story lines get resolved? Are all your readers’ internal questions about the characters and plot resolved?
  • Is there an intriguing first chapter and a satisfying last chapter?
  • Does the pace of the book pull your reader through? (does not lag partway through)
  • Does each chapter end with a satisfying conclusion and transition to next chapter?
  • Are your tone and voice consistent throughout the whole book?
  • Is there a good connection between author and reader? (outside voices can tell you this)
  • Have you caught all the grammar and spelling errors? (It’s hard to get a perfect book but you should strive to get as close as possible; find a trusted proofreader!)

The sensation of “finished” may feel different between a fiction and non-fiction book. An editor with Penguin Random House said, “When editing non-fiction, I feel the book is done when it delivers on its promise: it communicates its information in the most pleasing and effective way, and has answered the readers’ anticipated questions.’

On the other hand, a fiction author related, “I find that I’m done with a book when my subconscious mind is no longer working on it. When I stop thinking about it when I’m running. Or if I’m in the grocery store staring at avocados and a great idea about the book doesn’t just spring into my head. Or if I’m no longer waking up in the middle of the night with an urgent need to write down some dialogue. When those little moments stop happening, I know I’m done.”

That’s where a trusted third party voice, like an editor, can help you settle the issue and assure you that, yes, it’s time to put down the pen (or computer) and launch your book into the world. If you’ve ever launched a child into the world, you know what I mean. You teach them everything you can and pour your life wisdom into them the best you know, but eventually, you have to let them go and make their way in the world on their own.

After all, we don’t want them hanging around the house forever, do we?

 

arlyn_headshotArlyn Lawrence is a developmental editor, president of Inspira Literary Solutions, and co-author of Parenting for the Launch: Raising Teens to Succeed in the Real World (LifeSmart Publishing). She has successfully launched five children into the real world, along with over three dozen books.